It’s taken a while but the high end luxury small [ish] boat cruising is now cottoning on to the magnificent attractions and the commercial possibilities of the Argyll and west coast waters.
Now the Royal Scottish Shipping Line, registered in Malta, is launching with its 33m luxury superyacht, which is to be based in Oban on charter.
Spirit of Fortitude is a one of a kind a displacement motor yacht with very elegant lines. She has hand made furniture including a library office area, dining area and even a designated whisky viewing room.
The cabins are huge, all en suite and with full size wardrobes – plenty of space just to be alone.
The Scottish Shipping Line and Spirit of Fortitude are the brainwaves of the Punlers, with Denice Punler [Purdie] one of those gems with a inbuilt entrepreneurial instinct. She says that they were probably the only people taking money into Greece – where Spirit of Fortitude was bought and had a 12 month refit in Athens.
The duration of the refit was not due to extensive necessary works [though they were extensive] – but the fruit of a canny business brain.
The Greek economy is functioning on cash up front for everything. Prices are rock bottom. It made sense in these circumstances to do a full monty refit – and all the work involved was very much appreciated by the local workforce.
Denice talks of the amazing of overseeing the refit in Athens. The world’s biggest ships come and go through the port. There are only 5 mega cranes in the world and Athens has 3 of them.
The Punlers got talking to lots of owners and captains – all of which proved Clydebuilt enthusiasts.
Then there was a very strange coincidence.
All of the time they were in Athens, a superbly looked after Clydebuilt yacht – Madiz – was alongside them. She was a boat that drew the eye and bred affection Denice says everyone loved her no matter how glorious a mega yacht they had themselves.
When Denice was doing research into the Coates family, the earlier owners of the Castle Toward estate which her company is buying from current owners, Argyll and Bute Council [an acquisition about to be concluded]- she found that the Coates had commissioned the building of Madiz.
When she discovered his she must have thought the Spirit of Fortitude was a fated purchase, with the blessing of Madiz and its direct link to a parallel business venture.
All the crew so far employed for Spirit of Fortitude are from the Scottish Isles – Jura, Tiree and Stornoway. All have a lot of experience and both passion and wisdom for the waters and the Isles – a major asset to the enterprise and to the yacht’s operations for those who charter her.
The use of Oban as her base is very well judged – with the town known for very good reason as ‘the gateway to the isles’. There are so many directions a cruise can take out of Oban, with so many experiences to be plumbed.
The Punlers saw a gap in the luxury cruising market with a vessel much bigger than what’s currently on offer but smaller than the 73 metre Hebridean Princess. Their ambition is to provide a first class product and show the West Coast at its spectacular best.
‘Everyone says never have a business that’s your hobby’, says Denice, ‘I say everyone should live their hobbies and enjoy working.’ This is an attitude that understands the true value or work and the secure foundations it builds for a life.
The Spirit of Fortitude is on her way to Oban from Greece, with better weather in the Bay of Athens making the passage possible.
The Royal Scottish Shipping Line needs more staff fo.r her and is about to start advertising for them – an attractive opportunity that will involve hard work to the highest standards but will be hugely rewarding in experience, skills development and self confidence.